About Kegerators

What is a kegerator?

The term "kegerator" is a mashup of words between the word beer "keg" and “refrigerator,” describing an at-home draft beer dispensing device. A keg, typically comprised of beer, is stored in a refrigerated container in order to keep it chilled, allowing beer to be stored for extended periods of time without losing quality or freshness. Full-size kegerators will include a pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) tank and coupler to push beer out of the keg to a beer faucet where it can be poured.

Kegerators come in a variety of sizes and styles with optional accessories to suit individual tastes. The main function of a kegerator, however, is that it allows beer enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite draft beer right out of the tap in the comfort of their own homes.

Types of Kegerators

There are four main types of kegerators: mini kegerators, full-size home kegerators, commercial kegerators, and outdoor kegerators.

Mini Kegerators

A mini kegerator is a countertop beer dispenser that holds a “mini” keg of five-liters of beer – the equivalent of 10.5 pints or fourteen 12oz cans.

Mini kegerators are best for storing beer with limited space and can be tapped two to four times.

Full-Size Home Kegerators

full-size home kegerator is a draft beer dispenser that contains up to a full-size (or half barrel) keg, typically in a freestanding refrigerator (built-in or undercounter models are also available). 

Commercial Kegerators

Commercial kegerators are similar to full-size home kegerators, but are constructed to meet more stringent commercial quality standards. Many models are built for either freestanding or built-in / undercounter installation, offering a solution for those who want to integrate a draft beer system into standard-height cabinetry. Commercial kegerators hold half barrel (full-size), quarter barrel (half-size or pony) or mini kegs (5-liter).

Outdoor Kegerators

Outdoor kegerators are draft beer dispensers specifically designed and rated for outdoor use. Some models will work in temperatures ranging from as low as 45° to as high as 100° Fahrenheit.

Outdoor kegerators are ideal for those wanting to keep their beer cold in environments above 85° or below 50°. They are especially back yard patios, garages, or basements.

Types of Kegs

The three most common keg types are: half barrel keg, quarter barrel / slim quarter keg, and mini kegs.

 Half Barrel Keg:

A “half barrel" keg, is what most people consider a full-sized keg. Standard kegs are typically 23 inches tall and about 16 inches diameter, weighing about 160 pounds when full.

A half barrel kegs hold about 15.5 gallons (58.67 liters, 124 U.S. pints) or about 165 twelve-ounce glasses of beer (1,984 total ounces). Full-size kegerators are designed to hold a standard half barrel keg.

Quarter Barrel & Slim Quarter Keg:

There are two different types of quarter kegs. One is half the height, but same diameter of the half barrel. While the other is the same height, but has a smaller diameter. They both contain the same amount of beer, yet take up different amounts of space inside your kegerator setup.

Quarter Barrel — Also known as a pony keg, this “half-size” keg has approximately half the capacity of a standard, half barrel keg. This keg measures 13⅞ inches tall, 16⅛ inches in diameter, and weighs about 87-pound when full. It holds 7.75 gallons, the equivalent of eighty-two 12oz cans of beer or sixty-two pints.

Slim Quarter Barrel — Also known as a tall quarter, this keg holds the same amount of beer as the quarter barrel, but has a different shape. As its name implies, it’s taller and skinnier than the quarter barrel; measuring 23⅜ inches tall and 11⅛ inches in diameter.

Mini Keg:

A mini keg is a 5-liter keg produced for retail sales; you’ve probably noticed these showing up more and more in your grocery store’s beer aisle. The most common you’ll find is Heineken, but other brands are available.

Quite portable, mini kegs are 10 inches tall, 6.75 inches in diameter, and only weigh about 13 pounds. They hold 5 liters (1.33 gallons) or 13 twelve-ounce glasses of beer. Unlike larger kegs, mini kegs usually cannot be returned for cleaning and refilling and should be recycled. Mini kegs are recommended for our mini kegerators.

Other common types of kegs include Cornelius kegs and smaller sixth barrel kegs.

What size keg will fit in my kegerator?

This all depends on which model and type of kegerator you purchase. Some units cannot hold certain brands of beer kegs, most commonly Coors Light and Miller Lite, which are “oversized” or bulkier than other standard-sized kegs. An easy way to gauge if these brands will fit in your kegerator is by checking its width. Kegerators with an overall width of 23 inches or more can accommodate light brands.

At what temperature should I store my keg?

This all depends on the style of beer you are drinking, as well as personal preferences.

The recommended temperature for storing and serving chilled beer is between the high 30s and mid 40 degrees Fahrenheit — about 36° to 40°. (Keep in mind that beer freezes at 27°, with light beers freezing at as high as 31°.) These temperatures apply whether the beer is a domestic beer or an imported one. The same holds true whether or not the draft beer is pasteurized. Beer stored between the high 30s and mid 40s will retain the level of carbonation that was created during the brewing process.

During summer months, you may want to adjust the temperature control to a cooler setting.

The ideal method for monitoring the liquid temperature (inside the keg) is accomplished by use of a beer thermometer. This provides a constant accurate reading of the liquid (beer) temperature within the refrigerator.

 How long does a keg stay fresh?

The amount of time will range depending on the style of beer, type of pump you are using and whether that beer is pasteurized or not. The “freshness clock” starts the moment that keg is filled at the brewery.

If refrigerated within a kegerator that uses CO2, a keg will generally last at least 6-8 weeks before it starts to lose its fresh taste. If you store it at the appropriate temperature, pasteurized beer will last you at least three months, sometimes as long as six months. Unpasteurized beer will only last two months.

How many kegs can I tap on one CO2 tank?

A standard, 5-pound CO2 tank will last from 2-4 half barrel (full-size) kegs, largely depending on if it is kept cold.

Since heat causes carbon dioxide to expand, keeping it in hotter temperatures will ultimately limit its usability. However, if kept cold, CO2 should last for up to four half barrel kegs.

Can I use my kegerator outside?

Only outdoor kegerators should be used outside. Using an indoor kegerator outside stresses the unit’s compressor, shortens its life, and will not chill beer to its optimal temperature. Most home kegerators function best in room temperature environments (mid-70° Fahrenheit). For any environment above 85° Fahrenheit or below 50° Fahrenheit, an outdoor kegerator is strongly recommended.

How long should I wait before using my kegerator?

After turning your kegerator on, you should ideally wait at least 24 hours for the unit to cool properly. You may then adjust the temperature setting based on your preferences.

Is a kegerator freestanding or built-in?

Most kegerators are freestanding (not supported by another structure), but undercounter kegerators that build into cabinetry are also available.

Can a freestanding kegerator be built-in?

Freestanding kegerators cannot be built in. This is because many refrigerators vent heat out the back of the unit, which would be trapped if built into cabinetry. Without being able to escape, this excess heat may ultimately cause your kegerator to malfunction.